TIME: Sunday, 8 p.m. EDT.
San Jose is feeling good about its playoff chances after an impressive road trip.
Now, the Sharks will look to move into sole possession of the final Western Conference playoff berth when they meet the Dallas Stars.
The Sharks are tied with the Canucks for the final playoff spot. Vancouver is idle on Sunday. Both teams have 89 points and will meet in a home-and-home series starting Wednesday in Vancouver.
The Sharks won all three games on their just-completed trip, including Thursday's 5-0 win over Los Angeles. Jonathan Cheechoo had two goals and an assist, and Vesa Toskala made 14 saves for his second shutout of the season.
"That was a perfect road trip," said Toskala, who has started 13 of the last 16 games for San Jose, winning nine. "We got six points from the three games, and I think it gives us lots of confidence."
The Sharks, who also recorded wins over Dallas and Colorado, leads the 10th-place Kings by four points. San Jose and Los Angeles meet in the final regular-season game on April 17.
"Obviously you want to make the playoffs as a first priority, but along the way you want to finish as high as you can," coach Ron Wilson said. "This road trip gives us a lot of confidence, because they were all tough games."
Joe Thornton scored and had two assists, improving his league-leading assist total to 83. Cheechoo scored his 48th goal - and 41st since Thornton was acquired from Boston on Nov. 30.
"It's a fun and exciting time for all of us in here," Thornton said. "We've got some huge games coming up, so we have to play our best hockey moving forward."
The Stars beat Phoenix 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday for their 51st win, matching their franchise record set in 1998-99 - the season Dallas won its only Stanley Cup.
Dallas, which clinched the Pacific with Thursday's 5-3 win over Anaheim, improved to 12-1 in shootouts.
Jussi Jokinen and Bill Guerin scored in the shootout for the Stars after Philippe Boucher and Brenden Morrow scored in regulation.
Guerin returned after missing the last 11 games with a fractured orbital bone in his right eye socket.
Captain Mike Modano did not play after injuring his left knee against the Mighty Ducks, but the injury is not considered serious.
STANDINGS: Stars - 107 points, 1st place, Pacific Division. Sharks - 89 points, 3rd place, 18 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 32 goals; Sergei Zubov, 55 assists; Modano, 74 points; Morrow, 179 PIM. Sharks - Cheechoo, 48 goals; Joe Thornton, 83 assists and 111 points; Mark Smith, 93 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Stars - Power play: 17.5 percent (83 for 474), 18th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.0 percent (398 for 474), 9th. Sharks - Power play: 17.5 percent (80 for 457), 18th. Penalty killing: 81.6 percent (301 for 369), 21st.
GOALTENDERS: Stars - Marty Turco (40-17-5, 3 SO, 2.52 GAA); Johan Hedberg (11-4-0, 2.52). Sharks - Evgeni Nabokov (15-18-7, 1, 3.08); Toskala (19-7-4, 2, 2.57).
SEASON SERIES: Stars, 4-3.
LAST MEETING: Monday; Sharks, 3-2 (OT). At Dallas, Joe Thornton scored on a power play with 20.2 seconds left in overtime.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Stars - 25-10-3 on the road; Sharks - 22-8-7 at home.
|Apr 09 '06||DAL 1 at SJS 4||P. Rissmiller|
|Apr 03 '06||SJS 3 at DAL 2 - OT||J. Thornton|
|Mar 18 '06||DAL 4 at SJS 3 - SO||A. Miettinen|
|Feb 10 '06||DAL 3 at SJS 6||M. Michalek|
|Jan 30 '06||SJS 2 at DAL 3 - OT||J. Arnott|
|Nov 30 '05||SJS 1 at DAL 4||J. Svoboda|
|Nov 12 '05||DAL 3 at SJS 2 - SO||S. Zubov|
|Oct 26 '05||SJS 5 at DAL 4 - OT||P. Marleau|